Pros and Cons of Setting up an Indoor Garden

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 Pros and Cons of Setting up an Indoor Garden

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Even though many people have lost the basic skills to grow a garden, just about everyone has experience with houseplants. Fortunately, there are many edible plants that can be grown indoors and away from prying eyes.  Here are some advantages and disadvantages of this type of gardening.


Can Grow Food All Year Round


Since you can control the temperature and moisture levels, it is possible to grow food all year round indoors.  Just remember that different plants require different temperatures at different stages of growth. For example, lettuce, spinach, and several other “cold weather” vegetables require colder weather to grow properly. By the same token, other plants may require longer hours of sunlight and increased temperatures before they will produce flowers.  Once you know the actual requirements for each plant, you can go ahead and stagger planting times so that you can use just one temperature in the room you set aside for growing your indoor garden.  Alternatively, you can set up smaller heating devices and extra lights near plants that need a higher temperature or lighting to match the stage of growth they happen to be in.

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Easier to Prevent Stealing and Damage


One of the greatest advantages of an indoor garden is that it is much easier to prevent theft and damage to your crops.  Even if you live in a high crime rate area, the things that you do to protect your home from being broken into will also be effective in preventing people from getting to the room where your garden is.  That being said, if you are concerned about food shortages and what people may do under those circumstances, it makes sense to upgrade your surveillance systems and ensure that you can defend your garden in time of need.  It may also be of some help to make sure that people cannot look into your windows and see what you are growing.  


Aside from having a measure of protection for your garden from other people, you can prevent almost all damage from animals and insects.  Needless to say, rabbits, birds, and many other large animals that cause damage to gardens will not be able to get at your crops.  You can use insect traps and rat traps to eliminate these pests as soon as you see signs of them.  In addition, you can also use compatible crop strategies to eliminate any infestations that may have come with the plants, soil, or other items you are using for the garden.


Uses Fewer Resources


Legacy Food Storage

When compared to outdoor, and even deck gardens, you will find that indoor gardens require far less water, fertilizer, and other resources.  In fact, even a small, well kept compost pile from kitchen scraps will virtually eliminate the need for expensive fertilizers and other plant stimulants. Just remember to start off with good quality soil and make sure that you keep it in good condition for the plants you plan to cultivate. Here are some other things that will help reduce the number of resources you need for an indoor garden:


  • Use pH testing to determine if the soil is correctly balanced for the plants you are intending to cultivate. Since you will be setting most plants into pots or tubs, it is actually very easy to make sure you have the proper pH for each plant.
  • Self watering or water recapture planters can cut down on the amount of water used.  Always make sure that the drip catcher under the planter has low exposure to the air.  This will allow the soil in the pot to wick the water back up to the root area instead of having it evaporate and be lost in the air.
  • Capture and use precipitation – rainwater and melted snow carry nitrogen that most plants starve for even in optimal conditions.  Never forget that snow is considered a “poor man’s” fertilizer because decades ago farmer’s used to plow it into their fields to make sure they got as much nitrogen from it as possible.   Aside from providing an essential source of nitrogen, using precipitation to water your indoor garden will also reduce or eliminate exposure to fluoride and other toxins that are commonly found in municipal water supplies. Remember, everything from low level amounts of pharmaceutical drugs such as chemotherapy agents to chemicals used to prevent water borne illness routinely come through municipal water supplies.  If you want to stop taking in all that poison, there is no point to watering your indoor garden with municipal water.  


Requires Special Lighting


As with any other kind of gardening, you will find that setting up an indoor garden comes with some challenges. One of the most expensive and difficult to overcome is lighting.  While you may take sunlight for granted, the amount of light that actually gets through even a “sunny” window is much less than some plants need.  To add insult to injury, most florescent and LED lights may not offer the right light frequencies for optimal plant growth, flowering, and fruit production.   


In order to get your indoor garden to grow properly, you will need to find lights that produce the right light colors, frequency, and light density for the plants you are planning to grow. Even if you have a nice sunny room to work with, it is still best to be prepared with artificial lighting that will meet the growing needs of all your plants.


Aside from light intensity and type, you must also watch carefully for the right duration of light for each plant’s stage of growth. For example, one plant may grow perfectly well with 8 hours of light, but may require 10 hours to make blossoms.  This same plant may require a reduction to 9 hours before fruits will begin to ripen.  Failure to take into account light duration can result in a plant’s failure to produce blossoms, or just as bad, the plant may drop it’s fruit and go back to making more leaves.


Must be Able to Pollinate Flowers


Chances are, if you have an outdoor or deck garden, you have already noticed a significant decline in the bee population.  While you may not need to address lack of pollinators just yet in outdoor gardens, you will need to do so indoors.  Make sure that you know how to deliver pollen to flowers, and also what methods will work best for ensuring non-hybrid plants will not get cross pollinated inadvertently.


It is also worth noting that as bee populations decline, more and more people are becoming interested in keeping personal hives.  Without a question, you won’t want to take a chance of having hundreds of bees buzzing around in your home, or even a room of your home. On the other side of the equation, if you have a small shed or some other enclosure, it may be worth your while to turn it into a place where you can raise bees. As long as you have a way to ensure the bees are not loose all the time, you can just bring plants in and out of the shed to pollinate them.    Just make sure that the shed still meets all the lighting needs for each plant.


Must Use Space Saving Techniques


One of the hardest parts of growing an indoor garden is packing a lot of plants into a very small space. While you can get away with compact or hybrid strains at the beginning, eventually you will need to grow heirloom versions so that you can be confident of your food supply in a time when seeds are no longer available.  In addition, some of the most nutritious plants, such as squash and melons, require a good bit of room for the vines to run.  Here are some things you can try to get as most out of the space you have:


  • tomatoes (upside down), and melons can be raised in hanging planters.  Just put their containers up on the wall, and let them grown downward to the ground.  
  • Make peg boards along the floor for training vines – pumpkins and sweet potato vines do not need to get tangled up or stunted when you simply train them along pegs that will bring them into ovals and circles.  Remember not to disturb pumpkin vines once you see tiny pumpkins or the plant will drop them.
  • Use hydroponic gardening for lettuce, spinach, and other leafy vegetables – you can easily pack 4 -5 times the number of plants and get full sized crops using hydroponics on plants that lend themselves well to it.
  • Use terrace designs for root vegetables – simply make a large container about 1 foot tall for plants like radishes and turnips.   Plant them in a row about 5 inches from each wall of the box all the way around.  This will leave an empty center area.   Next, put a smaller box in the center of the larger container that is also a foot tall.  You now have 2 feet worth of soil to grow carrots and other deep root vegetables.   You can keep building upward for different plant types as needed and as space allows.


Do you want to reduce your reliance on deadly commercial foods?  Are you committed to making sure  you can provide food and herbal medicines for yourself and your family during and after a crisis? Why not give indoor gardening a try?

**A Scott Hughes Original for Freedom Prepper!

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